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September 16, 2021
Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — Thursday, September 16, 2021
Amy Blackburn, Office of Communications & Public Liaison (OCPL), Office of the Director (OD), NIH
Ms. Blackburn opened the meeting at 4:05 p.m. and presented the minutes from the previous meeting for approval. CLC members had no objections or changes to the minutes.
Utility Vault and Patient Parking Garage (UVPPG); Building 40A; and Surgery, Radiology, and Laboratory Medicine (SRLM) Traffic and Parking Mitigation
Gregar Odegaarden, Office of Research Facilities (ORF), OD, NIH
Mr. Odegaarden said that NIH is planning traffic and parking mitigation measures as a result of three major construction projects on campus:
- The SRLM addition to the hospital: Construction will begin in early 2022 and will take place in two phases. The structure will be complete and partly occupied by 2025, and patient care areas will be finished by 2028.
- The UVPPG, or Multi-Level Parking (MLP) Garage 15, and utility vault: Construction is under way and will be completed in 2022, but transfer of the main transformers and emergency generators for the Building 10 complex to the utility vault will take until 2024.
- The addition to the Vaccine Research Center (Building 40): Construction will begin this fall and will be completed in 2024.
Award and start dates are subject to funding availability, but the projects are on track to begin on time.
The projects will require road and lane closures on campus to ensure the safety of NIH staff and construction workers. The most significant closures will last about 6 years. Plans have accounted for access for the NIH Fire Department and NIH shuttles, as well as access to the childcare center. Mr. Odegaarden reviewed the planned closures and changes:
- The Center Drive gate at Old Georgetown Road will become a construction entrance to campus.
- This change will reduce wear on campus roads and support pedestrian safety.
- As a result, the west entrance to the Ambulatory Care Research Facility (ACRF) parking garage will be closed, and the garage will lose about 150 spaces. NIH is taking measures to ensure that patient parking is unaffected.
- Lane closure is planned on South Drive. The road will remain open, with flag personnel to provide traffic control.
The NIH Office of Quality Management and the contractor Mead & Hunt each conducted a traffic study to examine the situation. The studies identified effective mitigation measures in three areas: traffic reduction, traffic flow, and parking.
The most important traffic reduction measure is increasing telework. The studies suggest that with a 15% increase in telework over pre-pandemic levels, traffic congestion would be unchanged from 2018. NIH leaders are on board with this telework goal.
Traffic flow measures include the following:
- Adding a one-lane road connecting the Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge to South Drive, routing patients’ families staying on campus away from the construction site. The road will also provide access to the Convent, which houses medical scholars.
- Working with Montgomery County to modify traffic light timing on Old Georgetown Road. With fewer vehicles entering and exiting at Center Drive, green light time would decrease for traffic turning from Center Drive onto Old Georgetown Road and increase for traffic at South Drive and Lincoln Drive. There would be no net change to green light time on Old Georgetown Road.
- Adding a checkpoint at the entrance gate at Lincoln Drive to compensate for some of the loss of entry capacity at Center Drive.
- Making East Drive a two-way road to improve access to MLP 10 in the northeast corner of campus.
- Opening North Drive to exiting traffic in the evening.
Parking measures focus on patient care and Building 10 staff. Changes include the following:
- Requiring all vehicles entering the ACRF garage to be inspected remotely. This change stems from the closure of the west entrance to the garage. Lot 31B will be the new remote inspection site.
- Dedicating MLP 9 to Building 10 staff only.
- Shifting Division of Police parking to MLP 10.
- Moving the patient valet parking lot, which is on the construction site for the new wing, to Lot 4A and relocating the visitor parking from Lot 4A to Buildings 18 and 32, which will be demolished. NIH will also add a new shuttle stop for the new visitor parking lot.
- Ms. Wilkerson asked whether NIH anticipates any changes at the West Drive entrance. Mr. Odegaarden said there will be no changes at that entrance. Mr. Moss added that NIH had promised the community that West Drive would be a patient-only entrance.
- Ms. Miller asked about closures on Old Georgetown Road, and Mr. Odegaarden clarified that closures would occur only on campus, inside the perimeter fence.
- Ms. Miller asked which entrances to campus would be open along Old Georgetown Road. Mr. Odegaarden said that the South Drive and Lincoln Drive entrances would remain open. Mr. Moss said that the Center Drive entrance will not close, but it will be open only to construction traffic. He added that the Center Drive entrance was never a public entrance, but employees will shift to the South Drive or Lincoln Drive entrance.
- Ms. Lueders asked how someone traveling north on Rockville Pike would make the turn onto North Drive to enter the Clinical Center garage inspection site. Mr. Odegaarden said that they would enter on Wilson Drive and turn right on East Drive.
- Ms. Michaels suggested asking the county to extend the hours for the dynamic lane project on Jones Bridge Road. She said that it might help to have two left turn lanes later into the evening. Ms. Roberts said that NIH has ongoing conversations with the county and that police will monitor traffic and alert the county as needed. Mr. Moss said that he did not anticipate an increase in traffic, just a more even distribution.
- Ms. Michaels said that one intersection on Old Georgetown Road, possibly Lincoln Drive, does not have pedestrian crossing signals. She said that she would double-check and agreed to send a photo to Ms. Roberts if the signals are missing.
- Ms. Roberts displayed a map showing the concept for the one-way road connecting the Convent and Safra Lodge to the interior campus network. She said that NIH will take the plans to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) for approval.
- Ms. Roberts said that the new remote inspection site will be similar to the existing inspection site south of Building 45. The new site will be temporary. Ultimately, NIH plans to build additional garages and eliminate parking under the ACRF. Mr. Moss said that since the Oklahoma City bombing, there has been a movement to eliminate underground garages in federal facilities. Eliminating underground parking will reduce the amount of inspection needed. In response to a comment from Ms. Michaels, Ms. Roberts confirmed that the garage also has concrete issues that have required repeated repairs. In addition, NIH aims to align with the NCPC parking ratio goal of one space for every three employees.
Ms. Michaels asked whether NIH has seen an increase in speed, noise, or accidents since the pandemic began. Mr. Moss said that he receives police reports and has not seen a change in the volume of accidents, although the reports generally do not include speeding or parking tickets. He noted that the campus population is greatly reduced during the pandemic.
Ms. Miller said that improvements were made on southbound Old Georgetown Road, including adding a bike lane, after a teenager was killed in an accident there. The bike lane reduces the number of southbound lanes, which could affect construction vehicles.
Ms. Roberts said that she had seen a presentation on a traffic study from the Council of Governments (COG) at an NCPC meeting. The study found that during the pandemic, the number of fender benders decreased significantly, but the number of high-speed accidents remained about the same. Ms. Michaels said that traffic in her neighborhood is now close to pre-pandemic levels.
Ms. Blackburn adjourned the meeting at 4:53 p.m. She invited CLC members to email her or Ms. Robinson if any issues arise.
Next Meeting: TBD
Kira Lueders, Parkwood Residents Association
Deborah Michaels, Glenbrook Village Homeowners Association
Ginny Miller, Wyngate Citizens Association
Jennette Wade, Whitehall Condominium Association
Maureen Wilkerson, Maplewood Citizens Association
Amy Blackburn, OCPL
Lemuel Canady, ORF/OD
Kenny Floyd, ORF/OD
Brad Moss, ORF/Office of Research Services (ORS)/OD
Gregar Odegaarden, ORF/OD
Susan Roberts, ORF/OD
Sharon Robinson, Office of Community Liaison
This page last reviewed on May 5, 2023